LEE — A quick start was the goal for the Wahconah girls basketball team Tuesday night. Mission Accomplished.
The Warriors scored 19 points in the first quarter and never trailed as they beat host Lee 44-30.
"We changed our warmups because we were coming out slow in other games," said Wahconah's Ashley Zink. "We attacked from the start."
Kenna McIlquham had a game-high 15 points for Wahconah and just missed picking up a rare triple-double. McIlquham had 10 steals — five in each half — and seven rebounds. Zink chipped in with 13 points for the Warriors (4-2).
The Wildcats (1-4) were led by 10 points from Karli Retzel.
Zink scored seven of her 13 points in the first quarter, all coming in a 11-2 run that gave the Warriors a cushion.
A basket by Lee's Emma Bartini with 3:20 left in the quarter had cut the Wahconah lead to 8-6. Zink answered with a drive to the basket for two with 2:38 left. She then hit a 3-point shot and scored on a fast break off a rebound by Julia O'Connor.
"We just tried to play at our tempo," said Wahconah coach Liz Kay. "They're bigger than we are. They're more physical than we are. You have to negate that somehow. We tried to do it with speed."
The Wildcats held Wahconah to one basket in a seven-point second quarter and tried to make a move when Mikayla DeSantis drained a trey from the right wing with 4:41 left. The Wahconah defense clamped down as well, holding Lee to one point the rest of the way and taking a 26-14 halftime lead.
"Coach [Kay] has been emphasizing defense," said McIlquham. "That's what we want."
The only quarter that the Lee offense seemed to click was the third quarter. The Wahconah pressure had a hand in that.
"We couldn't seem to get into a rhythm," Lee coach Jenna Gangell said. "They play well defensively. Karli, it took her a little bit to adjust."
McIlquham seemed to hit big shot after big shot for the Warriors. Her basket off a steal with 1:37 left in the second quarter gave Wahconah a 12-point lead. Early in the second quarter, she hit a 3-ball from the right wing. Then the "dagger" came on her jump shot with four minutes left. That put the Warriors up by 16 points, and the Wildcats were unable to come back.
"I was struggling, especially against Taconic, I was 0 for I don't know how many, but I had two points in the game," said McIlquham. "I've been working on it. I worked on it in practice."
Wahconah outrebounded Lee 41-30. McIlquham and Lily Pudlo each had seven boards for the Warriors.
Lee's Brianna Hawley had a game-high 13 rebounds to go with six points.
Zink 4-2-11, McIlquham 5-4-15, George 0-0-0, Cote 2-0-4, Pudlo 0-6-6, Dougherty 1-0-3, Gagliardi 1-0-2, O'Connor 1-1-3, Gamberoni 0-0-0. Totals 14-13-44.
Williams 0-1-1, Walker 3-0-6, Bartini 1-0-2, Retzel 4-0-10, Fera 0-3-3, Finnegan 0-0-0, Hawley 3-0-6, DeSantis 1-0-3. Sands 0-0-0. Totals 12-3-30.
3-point goals — W 3 (Dougherty, Zink, McIlquham). L 3 (Retzel 2, DeSantis).